Lightning’s Yzerman Making Right Moves

When Steve Yzerman took over the Tampa Bay Lightning, it wasn’t pretty, not at all. Jeff Vinik hired Yzerman to fix the damage done by Brian Lawton and OK Hockey.

How bad was it before Yzerman took over? Well it was bad enough that Martin St. Louis asking for a trade before signing his extension was considered acceptable. Translation: it was bad.

Yzerman had a the leftover monstrous contract of Vincent Lecavalier, a Steven Stamkos entering his final year of an entry-level contract and essentially a team that had no identity.

Now Lecavalier is with Philly and that cap space is free, Stamkos signed a new deal for a good amount and the team has an identity based on speed and goaltending.

He is  working towards the future as well and the fact that goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy, the 19th overall pick is leaving to come from the KHL, shows how good Yzerman is at being an NHL GM.

Whereas some GMs, ahem Garth Snow of the New York Islanders, are gutting their future to try and win now, Yzerman is showing what is key to be successful for a GM—patience and the right move.

An example of the right move would be Vasilevskiy, who came through a shrewd branch of trades that Yzerman made in 2012. He sent Steve Downie to Colorado for Kyle Quincey and then sent Quincey to the Detroit Red Wings for the 19th overall pick that has now become Vasilevskiy, who played outstanding in the KHL and predicted to translate in the NHL.

As for the patience, just look at what he has done this year. He put ten rookies on the ice, when they were ready. Sure, they weren’t always in the ideal developmental spots such as Tyler Johnson centering the first line and seeing first line minutes but the kids essentially came through for him this year by getting the team to the playoffs. Although, like everyone, he probably wanted the Bolts to go far but alas not everything happens in one year.

The future is bright in Tampa and it’s because of the moves that Yzerman has made. Instead of getting Seth Jones, who is a great choice, he decided on Jonathan Drouin. Instead of throwing Drouin into the league at a young age, he gave him more time in junior hockey.

These are calculated moves just like with the Downie trade. Like the Downie trade, there was much outrage by the local media and fan base over whether Drouin should be in a starting lineup for the Bolts. But Yzerman had him stay down, develop more as a player, and now there is a chance that Drouin who dominated this year will be competent and able to play wing with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat. Imagine that line for a minute and try not to drool.

For every criticism Yzerman has faced, there is one thing that shouldn’t be doubted by fans and media. He has the pulse of this team and has done nothing but better the team from what it was before he took over.

He has made many moves but now the results are starting to pay off. He definitely has earned his new extension because Tampa is now a threat in the Atlantic Division and it’s just getting started.